Skip to main content

Full text of "My country and my people"

See other formats

IDEALS   OF   LIFE                      113
in life's battle, in spite of the fact that the theory itself was the result of the highest human intelligence.
Human intelligence in Laotse had seen its own dangers and began to preach <fiBe stupid!" as its greatest message. It had seen the futility of human effort, and therefore advised the doctrine of "doing nothing3* as a saving of energy and a method of prolonging life. From this point on the positive outlook on life became negative3 and its influence has coloured the whole Oriental culture. As may be seen in the novel Yehsao Paojm and in all lives of great Chinese^ the conversion of a bandit or a recluse into a man of the world with responsibilities toward one's fellow-beings, was always represented by a Confucian argument, while the romantic escape from the world was always represented by the Taoistic or Buddhistic point of view. In Chinese, these two opposite attitudes are called "entering the world" and "leaving the world/5 Sometimes these two points of view struggle for supremacy in the same man and at different periods in his life, as may be seen in the life of Yiian Chunglang. A living example is that of Professor Liang Suming^ who was a Buddhist living in the mountains, but who was reconverted to Confucianism, married and is now conducting a rural middle school in Shantung.
The rural ideal of life, art and literatures which is such an important feature of the Chinese civilization, owes a large measure to this Taoistic feeling for nature. In Chinese paintings on scrolls and porcelain there are two favourite themes^ one being the happiness of family life with pictures of women and children in their leisure, the other being the happiness of the rural life, with pictures of a fisherman, or a woodcutter, or a recluse sitting on the ground under a group of pine-trees. These two themes may represent respectively the Confucianist and the Taoistic ideal of life. The woodcutter, the herb-gatherer, and the recluse are more closely associated with Taoism than the average foreigner would suspect. The Taoistic feeling is weM expressed by this favourite poem:
I asked the boy beneath the pines.
He said, "The Master's gone alone
Herb-picking somewhere on the mount.
Cloud-hidden, whereabouts unknown,'*